Football Weekend 10/7/17

Since it is Friday, the order of business is to check out the upcoming football games for this weekend.  Before getting to those weekend college games, let me say that NC State has quietly inserted itself into any discussion of “top teams” in the country.  The Wolfpack already had a win over Florida State in the bag last night when they beat Louisville by 2 TDs.  They still have Clemson on the schedule and the game is in Raleigh on 4 November.  As of this morning, that looks like a spotlight game.

There are some interesting games in college football this weekend involving good teams:

  1. LSU at Florida:  After losing to Troy at home, LSU’s Ed Orgeron is clearly feeling the heat.  As each week goes by, that loss to Mississippi St. looks worse too.  This should be a low-scoring affair.
  2. Georgia at Vandy:  I have only seen Georgia once, but I am very impressed.  Too bad Georgia and Alabama are not scheduled to play one another this year…
  3. Alabama at Texas A&M:  The line is Alabama – 27.  That seems like a fat line for a road team in a place where home field advantage is a real thing.
  4. Michigan St. at Michigan:  The key element of this game is pretty obvious:  Can Michigan get production from the QB position now that they have been forced to make a change?  Michigan State has been anything but a world-beater so far this year.
  5. Miami at Florida St.:  Miami seems to be a team on the rise; Florida St. seems to be just the opposite.
  6. Stanford at Utah:  Expect a defense-dominated slugfest here…
  7. San Diego St at UNLV:  Do not be fooled by UNLV’s 2-2 record.  This is the team that lost to Division 1-AA Howard at home as a 43-point favorite.  Also, there is no way to assess to what degree the mass murder in Las Vegas will affect the emotions here.  Could be interesting to watch…

There are also a couple of college games this weekend involving some of the less-than-very-good teams in the country:

  1. Hawaii at Nevada:  Hawaii is favored by 4 points on the road; Hawaii is not a good team this year and is rarely a good road team.  There is information content in that betting line.
  2. Oregon St. at USC:  Oregon St. is a 34.5-point underdog.  Oregon St. is over-matched in the PAC-12 and will likely be seeking a new coach soon.
  3. Tulsa at Tulane:  Here are two teams seeking the cusp of mediocrity.  However, it is a matchup of two great team names; the Golden Hurricane takes on the Green Wave.  That’s all I got …

Before making comments on some of the NFL’s weekend lineup, let me say something very simply:

  • Cam Newton is an immature meathead.

I will cut him the slightest bit of slack regarding his apology for his stupid remarks; at least it did not sound as if someone wrote it for him to read in front of a microphone/camera.

One more thing …  The Patriots have no pass rush and do not blitz.  Even though they beat the Bucs last night, Jameis Winston had tons of time in the pocket on most of his pass attempts.  That is an area of the game the Pats will have to improve upon if they plan to do anything come playoff time.

Here are some interesting NFL matchups for this weekend:

  1. Bills at Bengals:  I find this game very interesting.  Are the Bills for real?  Did the Bengals regain consciousness last week or was it just that they played the Browns?  I sorta like the Bengals here …
  2. Jets at Browns:  The Jets can advance to a 3-2 record with a win here.  No one saw that coming…
  3. Niners at Colts:  These are 2 bad teams notwithstanding the fact that the Colts are only 1 game behind the division leader in the AFC South.  The oddsmaker says Colts – 1.5; I say do not bet on this game and watch something else.
  4. Chargers at Giants:  Both teams are 0-4 – – and still I think this will be a better game to watch than the Niners/Colts game.  The Giants have lost two heart-breakers in a row; the Chargers will invent a way to lose once again.
  5. Seahawks at Rams:  This is one of the top three games for the weekend.  Are the Rams for real?  Can the Seahawks play well on the road?  Will the LA Coliseum be 60% full for this game?  So many questions …
  6. Ravens at Raiders:  Both teams are 2-2; both teams have looked horrible in the last 2 games.  Ravens offense is non-existent; Raiders’ defense cannot stop anything; the moveable object meets the resistible force.  Might there be an Amari Cooper sighting this weekend?  Venue call if you must play this game…
  7. Packers at Cowboys:  This is another of the top three games of the weekend.  The Cowboys need a win here more than the Packers need one.  Expect plenty of points in this one.
  8. Chiefs at Texans (Sunday Nite):  The best game of the weekend.  Despite the Texans’ offensive eruption last week for 57 points, do not expect a lot of points in this game.  The Total Line is 45.5 and I think the oddsmaker is right on.

Finally, here is a comment from Lou Holtz – former coach at Arkansas, NC State, Notre Dame and other schools – about job stability for college football coaches:

“I have a lifetime contract. That means I can’t be fired during the third quarter if we’re ahead and moving the ball.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Football Ruminations

All during the “process” that led the NFL to put a second team in the Los Angeles market, I have wondered why those business-smart people thought that was a good idea.  Sports interest is a regional commodity.  In the Northeast, baseball is a focal point in the sports world and college football is “ho-hum” at best.  In the Southeast, the opposite is true.  If I look at what “draws” and what “commands fan interest” in the LA marketplace, here is what I have seen over the past couple of decades:

  • LA Dodgers baseball
  • LA Lakers basketball – – but not LA Clippers basketball
  • USC football
  • UCLA basketball – – off and on.

You can look at that list and simplistically conclude that LA fandom is a bunch of front-runners but I think it is more than that.  The Dodgers have had some lean years but the fans still go to the games; the Lakers have been mediocre or worse for several years now but they are still front-and-center in the LA sports cosmos.  I think that a careful view of the LA sports market would say that Los Angeles is just not into professional football as much as it is other things on the sports menu.  If that is the correct conclusion, then the size of the LA market may be sufficient to sustain one NFL franchise but may struggle to sustain two.  Remember, the Rams and the Raiders both played in LA and both left LA for much smaller markets because the fanbase was not there.

All of that is preamble to a report I read that makes me think that the NFL had better get itself ready for an emergency team transplant; the LA Chargers need to get out of town.  I mentioned earlier this week that last weekend’s crowd at the Chargers/Eagles game was about half Eagles’ fans and that it sounded more like an Eagles’ home game than a Chargers’ home game.  OK, so maybe the tiny stadium venue in a less than convenient location with top-shelf ticket prices kept LA fans at home sitting on their wallets.  Well, TV stats say differently:

  • Last weekend, the Saints/Dolphins game televised from London had higher ratings in the LA market than the Chargers/Eagles game did.

LA sports fans are not at home sitting on their wallets; LA sports fans are sitting at home and paying attention to two mediocre teams playing a game of no direct import on either LA team at a venue 8 time zones away.  To me, that does not sound like a problem that will be solved by playing games in a new stadium…

There is a football situation in Indy that I find interesting.  Andrew Luck has been cleared to practice starting this week and the team says he is on a “pitch-count” in terms of his throws in practice.  Luck continues his recovery from offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder.  I have a suggestion for the Colts’ braintrust:

  • Put Andrew Luck on Injured Reserve and do not play him even a single down in the 2017 season.

The Colts are not contending for any championships this year no matter who plays QB.  Even Hollywood would not green-light a script that had John Unitas coming back from the great beyond to take snaps for the Colts and leading that squad to glory.  There is no need to risk further injury – perhaps some permanent impairment – to a franchise quarterback when there is no real potential return for taking that risk.  Moreover, if the Colts play Jacoby Brisset at QB for the season, there are two potential benefits:

  1. Brisset will gain experience and become either a top-flight backup to Andrew Luck starting in 2018 or a valuable trading piece to acquire other assets for the team.
  2. The Colts will lose plenty of games and have a high draft pick that they may be able to flip for multiple draft picks that will allow them to draft several offensive linemen and a solid running back that will protect Andrew Luck once he does come back in 2018 and beyond.

This week’s Colts/Niners game should give the Colts’ braintrust a signal.  The Niners are a mediocre squad at the very best; the game is in Indy.  If the Colts’ braintrust wants to harbor any continued delusions that the Colts can “make some noise” in 2017, then the Colts need to win this game by at least 4 TDs – and maybe 5.

The Titans’ QB, Marcus Mariotta, has a hamstring injury so the Titans were in the market for someone to come in and be the backup to the new starter, Matt Cassell.  The team signed Brandon Weeden.  The only thing that tells me is this:

  • Brady Quinn’s agent was out of town and did not respond to voicemail.

The Raiders lost QB, Derek Carr for 2-6 weeks with a fracture of the transverse process on one vertebra.  That makes EJ Manuel the starter and Connor Cook the backup.  The Raiders saw what Connor Cook provided at the end of last season; I suspect that the team is not thrilled to know he is one snap away from being “the man” once again.  If they go shopping in the free-agent QB market, the pickings are slim but they should definitely avoid falling into the trap of “looking for a guy who knows the system”.  That might lead the Raiders to consider JaMarcus Russell or – even worse – Todd Marinovich.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen became the seventh golfer — and the only active one — with runner-up finishes in all four majors when he came in second at this year’s PGA Championship.

“He still earned $784,000 in prize money — and future Bills Super Bowl tickets.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

MLB Playoff Predictions 2017…

Before we begin today, let me tip my cap to Broderick Crawford for making this date memorable…

Back at the end of March, I predicted the outcome of the MLB regular season.  I shall revisit those predictions here simply to provide some context to the forthcoming predictions for the MLB Playoffs that are underway.

  • I picked the Red Sox and the Indians to win their divisions – and they did.
  • I picked the Astros to finish second to the Rangers in the AL West.  The Astros won the division in a walk and the Rangers finished below .500.  I did have the Astros in the playoffs as a wildcard.
  • I picked the Nats, Cubs and Dodgers to win their divisions – and they did.
  • I had the Mets as the NL wildcard team and that was not even close.

Those of you who have been reading these rants for a while will look at the description of the predictions above and think that it is more than a tad unusual for me to be so accurate.  And so, in order to present a full picture of the predictions from March 30, 2017, here are some other predictions that did not turn out nearly as well:

  • Blue Jays to finish second in the AL East
  • Tigers to finish second in the AL Central and Twins to finish fourth.
  • Giants to finish second in the NL West.
  • D-Backs and Rockies categorized as “after-thoughts”.

Since those predictions came to you for free, you should have known immediately what they were worth.  The same goes for the prognostications that follow here.

We know that the Yankees will advance to play the Indians in the AL based on their win over the Twins last night at Yankee Stadium.  Tonight, I believe that the D-Backs will win their play-in game over the Rockies and set the bracket in the National League.

What I would prefer to see in the World Series is an encore performance from last year.  No one who is a baseball fan could have been bored or disinterested in last year’s World Series.  Even without the story lines of each team going long periods of time without a championship, the games themselves were more than interesting and the seventh game was as good as it could get – – unless you were an Indians’ fan.  So, if I could wave a magic wand and start the Playoffs with the World Series matchup that I want, it would be the Cubs and the Indians.

Other World Series pairings that I would find very interesting from the point of view of a baseball fan:

  1. Red Sox/Nats:  How could you not like Chris Sale versus Max Scherzer?
  2. Red Sox/Dodgers:  How could you not like Chris Sale versus Clayton Kershaw?
  3. Indians/Dodgers:  Hottest team in MLB versus the best team in the National League

Here is how I think things will proceed up to the World Series:

  • I like the Astros to beat the Red Sox in the AL Division Series.  There are a bunch of really good young players on both of these teams and this should be a great viewing experience for fans.  Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are going to be around for a long time and they are fun to watch.
  • I like the Indians to beat the Yankees simply because they are the better all-around team with a better pitching staff.  Oh, and since I mentioned young players who are fun to watch above, please let me remind you that the Indians’ Francisco Lindor is also an outstanding young talent.
  • I like the Dodgers to beat the D-Backs in the NL Division Series – – but I add here that this is my least confident prognostication.  If the D-Backs find a way to beat Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 here, I think the Dodgers are in deep yogurt.
  • I like the Cubs to beat the Nats and I think that Kris Bryant will continue his hot hitting to lead the Cubs to this series win.  Too much will be made of the story line that both Bryant and Bryce Harper are from Las Vegas and that ties into the mass shooting there.   This is a baseball series, folks; it is not social commentary.

Moving on, the best baseball viewing experience for October 2017 will be the series between the Indians and the Astros.  Up until about August 1, the Astros were the best team in the AL; then the Indians caught fire.  These are two very good rosters with two very good managers.  This series ought to be top-shelf.  I like the Indians to win this series and my strong preference would be for it to go 7 games…

While my preference would be for the Cubs to go back to the World Series against the Indians, I cannot take them in a series against the Dodgers.  [Aside:  If, however, the D-Backs pull the upset in the NLDS, I like the Cubs to prevail.]    My crystal ball says that the Dodgers and the Indians will be the last two teams standing.

The last time the Dodgers won it all was in 1988 – almost 30 years ago.  That was the “Kirk Gibson Series” that every baseball fan knows about.  The last time the Indians won it all was in 1948 – almost 70 years ago.  That Indians’ team had some fine players on the roster even though some of the names have receded in the memories of baseball fans:

  • Gene Beardon
  • Lou Boudreau
  • Larry Doby
  • Bob Feller
  • Joe Gordon
  • Bob Lemon
  • Dale Mitchell
  • Al Rosen

My prediction for 2017 is that the Cleveland Indians win it all and the city celebrates for the month of November ignoring completely the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns.

Finally, I ran across an interesting baseball stat from 2017 involving a player on a team that finished last in its division and won less than 70 games.  Joey Votto played in all 162 games for the Cincinnati Reds this year; he reached base in 150 of those games.  He led the NL in OBP at .454 and led the league in OPS with 1.032.  If he does not get a significant number of votes for NL MVP, the voters are not paying attention.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Last Weekend In Football

Last weekend was my first football binge-watching event of the season; it did not take me long to get back into the groove.  The plan for today is to provide some impressions of what I saw – and what I read about – in college football and NFL football.  I’ll start with college football.

LSU paid Troy to come to Baton Rouge to be the “Homecoming Opponent”.  Troy won the game and that did not make for much of a celebration in Tiger-land.  When the LSU folks fired Les Miles, I said that they may be a bit delusional about their expectations for achievement for their football team.  Their new coach, Ed Orgeron, is now feeling the heat.

Washington State and Luke Falk are for real.  They beat USC in a very close game and the Washington State defense played a major role in the win.  That is not a traditional strength shown by Mike Leach-coached teams, but it was on display over the weekend.

Something very strange is happening in Tallahassee.  Florida State struggled to win a game that prevented the Seminoles from starting 2017 with an 0-3 record.  Moreover, the team they struggled to beat was Wake Forest.  Yes, I know they lost their #1 QB to injury early on, but still…

Georgia is a very good football team.  They went to Knoxville and they dominated Tennessee in every phase of the game.  Tennessee coach, Butch Jones, has complained in the past that his team has not gotten the attention and recognition it deserves.  After two weeks where the Vols barely beat UMass and then got stomped by Georgia, my guess is that he would like to see the spotlight aimed elsewhere.

The Oklahoma St./Texas Tech game was close and exciting.  I was very impressed with the accuracy of Oklahoma St. QB, Mason Rudolph, particularly on throws where he had to drop the ball into receivers’ hands over the hands of defenders.

In Wisconsin’s win over Northwestern, the Badgers’ defense racked up 10 sacks of the QB.  Somehow, this was still a one-score game in the 4th quarter until one of those sacks also produced a safety.

Ole Miss had played Alabama tough the last several years and had upset the Crimson tide a couple of times.  Not this year; the final score was 66-3 and the score reflected the difference between the two teams.  This was an old-fashioned beatdown.

Division III Linfield College beat Whitworth last week 38-9 taking the Wildcats’ record in 2017 to 2-1.  Remember, the last time Linfield had a losing season in football was in 1956.

Moving up a level to the NFL, I noticed the crowd for the Eagles game against the Chargers in LA.  It looked to me as if there were at least as many fans wearing green jerseys as there were Chargers’ fans.  In case you were sleeping through geography class, it is more than a quick trip around the corner to get from Philly to LA.  That ought to be a warning signal for the NFL and its owners.

Los Angeles is a huge market when you measure all the demographic stats.  The problem is that it is not a great pro football market and putting 2 NFL teams in that market is not a good long-term idea.  In a more generic sense, the inability of the Chargers to sell out its 30,000-seat bandbox stadium is another example of the public’s unwillingness to enjoy the “NFL stadium experience”.  In the past, when a new stadium appeared in a city, fans filled it; the Rams/Chargers will inhabit new digs in a couple of years and we shall see how that goes.  The same applies to the Raiders as they make their long and protracted march to Las Vegas.  The Chargers’ attendance woes are not unique; there is a relatively new stadium for the Niners in Santa Clara and it has lots and lots of empty seats on a regular basis.

Before the start of the Ravens/Steelers game in Baltimore, the PA announcer asked the crowd to join in a moment of silent prayer “for kindness, for unity, for equality and for justice for all Americans”.  The Ravens as a team took a knee for that silent prayer and the fans deluged that act with “Boos”.  The teams then stood for the National Anthem.

  1. Since when is it even marginally acceptable to “Boo” a prayer?
  2. Why were those doing the booing opposed to either kindness or unity or equality or justice?

The Dolphins lost a game in London to the Saints.  OK, move on to the next game…  Except, the Saints pitched a shutout in that game.  Yes, the Saints’ defense pitched a shutout.  That ought to make it a tad more difficult for the Dolphins simply to move on to the next game.

The Bengals came to life against the Browns – as indeed, most teams come to life against the Browns.  Andy Dalton had been the target of bile and scorn from Bengals’ fans but his stats last weekend had to be acceptable to just about anyone:

  • He completed 17 of his first 18 passes.
  • He finished the day 25 for 30 for 264 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs.

Last week was not Deshaun Watson’s first start in the NFL but it was his coming-out party.  The Texans beat the Titans 57-14 and Watson merely threw 4 TDs and scored another running the ball.

The Raiders lost to the Broncos in Denver but much more importantly they lost Derek Carr to a back injury that could keep him on the sidelines for 2-6 weeks.  Coaches like to talk about testing the character of a team; the Raiders are about to have their character tested.  Backup QB, EJ Manuel, did not look as bad as he has in the past but that is about all I can say positively about his performance.  Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch looks to me as if he still has plenty of rust to shake off; to me, it seems as if he is running “analytically” and not “instinctively”.  The Raiders will need the “old Beast Mode” in the next several weeks.

With the regular season 25% over, the Jets and the patriots have the same record at 2-2.  Who saw that coming?  The Jets won for the second week in a row beating the Jags in OT.  Meanwhile the Pats lost at home again and the Pats’ defense was about as effective as the Maginot Line once again.  No, I do not understand what is going on there.

The Bills beat the Falcons but a fumble recovered by the Bills for a TD certainly looked to me like an incomplete pass.  Whatever…

The Rams beat the Cowboys with a second half rally.  The Rams continue to put points on the board and this week the Rams’ defense showed up in the second half to dominate the game.  Rams/Seahawks game this week should be a good one…

NBC had a great introductory song a while back when Faith Hill did the singing.  The current song is awful at the very best.  If ESPN can go back in time to resurrect Hank Williams Jr. to introduce MNF, can I please ask the execs at NBC – ever so politely – to get the old Faith Hill song back on SNF?

The Chiefs/Redskins game on MNF last nighthad to be the best MNF game so far this year.  Some future games on Monday nights could be very good – – e.g. Skins/Eagles and/or Broncos/Chiefs and/or Falcons Seahawks – – but the game last night will be the season standard for all of the Monday night games.

Finally, with the concocted competition of golf’s President’s Cup out of the way, let me share a comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald about golf on TV:

“There is online video of a golfer in Sweden being chased off the course by an angry moose. I’m planning to skip the next Ryder Cup to re-watch this video.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

College Basketball Scandal 2017

Ever since news broke about the FBI investigation of fraud and bribery in the business of recruiting 5-Star high school basketball prospects, I have been quizzical about the role of the Federal Government in all of this.  Readers have accused me of being dumber than usual on these sorts of matters and I have gotten e-mails accusing me of being an “Internet troll” on this subject taking a ridiculous position simply to generate heat on the matter. Let me be clear; I am no dumber this week than I have been in the past and I am not “trolling”.

Before getting into substance here, let me set the stage.  I really like college basketball; I have been a fan of college basketball since the 1950s.  I liked it better when players stayed in college for 4 years before turning pro; I do not like the concept of “one-and-done” even a little bit.

I think it is hugely inappropriate for major college basketball programs to pretend that they are in the education business.  They are not; they are in the basketball business; and in some cases, they also get involved in the education business.  I have argued for years that major college athletic departments should be considered and taxed as business entities and that they should enjoy exactly no status that allows contributions to those departments to be tax deductible.  I know that college basketball played at the top echelon is a profitable business and I do not mind that it is so if I get to see good college basketball games as a result.

Now for my problem with this investigation/prosecution…  One of the charges at the heart of all this is bribery.  The shoe companies allegedly provided money to top recruits and/or their family members using college assistant coaches as a conduit to influence the choice of that player regarding where he would play college basketball for a year or two.  Consider these two points:

  1. First, bribery usually follows this trail.  I pay someone to do something that is improper and to my benefit.  To me, the “impropriety” is what makes bribery a criminal act.  If I tip a headwaiter to get a choice table promptly at a restaurant, that is not bribery because what he does is not illegal.  In his job, he gets to choose who sits where and when; if I slip him a portrait of Benjamin Franklin to get a prime table and he makes the choice to seat me there, no law has been violated.
  2. Second, imagine the situation where I am in high school and nationally known for my genius as a bassoon player.  [Recall that Professor Moriarty was a virtuoso on the bassoon.]  Perhaps both the New School in Philly and the Juilliard School in NYC covet a bassoon player for their orchestras.  When/if each of them offer me a scholarship and perhaps some living expenses to attend their institutions, they are not bribing me.  Those “inducements” seek to affect my completely legal activity of deciding where I want to go to school to enhance my skill levels.

What has seemingly happened in the college basketball scandal du jour is that there have been under-the-table payments to high school recruits as a result of the fact that the NCAA as the guardian of amateurism in intercollegiate sports has ruled out any above-the-table payments of any kind in matters like this.  Now, let me be clear about something here:

  • The NCAA rule book regarding what is OK and what is not OK regarding collegiate recruiting and eligibility is not the same thing as Federal Law.
  • The NCAA investigators and its Committee on Infractions need to enforce the NCAA rule book.  The FBI and the US Attorney Offices around the country need to enforce Federal Law.  I do not want the NCAA investigators – a bunch of wannabe Inspector Clouseaus at best – doing the FBI’s business; as a taxpayer, I do not want the FBI wasting its time enforcing the NCAA rule book.

[Aside:  If the allegations presented so far are indeed 100% accurate, there is indeed a Federal Law that seems to have been broken.  That would be tax evasion on the part of the people who received the illicit payments to steer a specific recruit to a given school.  Interestingly, the words “tax evasion” never occurred at the announcement of the arrests and charges in this matter.]

It turns out that I am not alone in my thinking here.  Charles P. Pierce is a writer with a long history in sports commentary.  He has branched out from that niche over the years but I have read his stuff in venues from the Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and The National all the way to Slate and Gentleman’s Quarterly.  He has a recent piece on SI.com which called this investigation absurd.  Here is a link to his essay; please read it in its entirety.  Here are his concluding sentences:

“Nothing good will come of this. The underground economy of college sports will adapt the way it always does. And the aboveground economy will remain the province of the unindicted sharpers who did such a great job with it in 2008. If Chuck Person goes to jail while those guys walk around free, the country is out of its mind.”

Charles P. Pierce and I are not alone in this sort of thinking.  Also at SI.com, there is a column by Michael Rosenberg on this same topic.  Please follow this link and read this column in its entirety also.  Here are some selected bits of commentary:

“These criminals, we are told, ‘defrauded’ the universities that employed them.  This may turn out to be legally accurate, but it is also utterly laughable. These schools—apparently Arizona, Louisville, Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC and Miami—are not victims. They are perpetrators … But as far as defrauding the universities … well this is like nailing the accountant who defrauded Al Capone.  Let’s be honest about who is in charge.”

And …

“The schools were supposedly ‘defrauded’ because these dastardly assistant coaches broke NCAA rules, then filled out forms certifying that they never did. The forms are another joke. Nearly everybody in college sports must fill them out, and I am still searching for anybody in history who used them to confess to anything. They’re just a cover for the schools.”

I am not trying to make the case that no one did anything wrong here.  What I continue not to understand is how and why the FBI and the US Attorney’s office spent two years investigating and wiretapping and using undercover assets to bring all of this to light.  There are real criminal enterprises at work in the country; there is an opioid epidemic; there are problems with human trafficking; there are cyber-criminals at work on a daily basis and so on.  In my opinion, I think the FBI and the US Attorney’s office need to focus attention on those sorts of violations of law and not to concoct justifications why college basketball recruiting is a nexus of evil worthy of a 2-year investigation.

Now that the NCAA has information at its disposal that its own internal investigators would never have discovered in a geological era, the question is what should they do with it and what are they likely to do with it.  What they should do is pretty straightforward.

First, using standards of proof that are not nearly as stringent as the ones applied to guile and innocence in criminal proceedings, the NCAA should determine what schools and which coaches circumvented its recruiting rules and while they are at it they should determine if any violations of eligibility rules adhered to said illicit recruits.  They should divide their findings into two categories – – the Sleazy/Slimy/Nefarious Ones and The Truly Outrageous/Blatant Flaunting of Standards Ones.

  • For The Sleazy/Slimy Ones, ban any and all coaches involved from coaching at any NCAA institution (down through Division III) for ten years minimum and then allow those coaches back into the profession only after a case-by-case review of their behaviors and activities over that ten-year hiatus.  Make it clear that a re-entry into the college coaching profession is not guaranteed.  With regard to the schools, they will go on probation for 5 years and will not be allowed to participate in any conference basketball tournaments or in the NCAA men’s post season tournament for that same period of time.  Also, no TV appearances on any of the network TV partners; only local telecasts will be allowed.
  • For The Truly Outrageous/Blatant Flaunting of Standards Ones, the coaches should be banned-for-life from collegiate coaching at all levels.  Period; no questions asked…  With regard to the schools, if their athletic departments participated in actions of this nature, the school should get the “basketball death penalty” for ten years.  If they want to play basketball on an intercollegiate basis, there is the NAIA – if those folks will have them.

I have no problem with hammering people and institutions that violated NCAA rules.  Even though the rules are stupid in many cases, the schools and the coaches signed up to them; when there are violations, there need to be consequences.  In this matter – as in most other situations – I do not believe that the end justifies the means.

  • I do not want the FBI to become the investigative arm of the NCAA looking to enforce that NCAA rules with contorted legal logic as to what is criminal activity.
  • I do not want the NCAA to continue its hypocrisy.  If it must have its 500-page rule book defining acceptable and non-acceptable behavior(s), then it needs to enforce those rules with severity notwithstanding the economic impact of the enforcement.  The fact that an academic fraud situation at UNC that was ongoing for about 2 decades has yet to be adjudicated despite the evidence coming to light about 5 years ago speaks to the influence of economic impacts on rule enforcement at the NCAA.

In addition, I do not believe for a moment that every under-the-table recruiting inducement would evaporate if college athletes in the revenue sports were paid.  I have reservations about paying them that have nothing at all to do with the recent scandal revelations.  However, I think that people who are strongly in favor of paying college athletes have wrongfully advocated that payments would obviate these sorts of behaviors.

Finally, in order to get out of this in a lighter tone than has been prevalent so far, let me leave you with the words of Alex Karras – a former student-athlete at an NCAA institution – regarding his time there:

“I never graduated from Iowa.  But I was only there for two terms – Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Football Tidbits…

Earlier this season, the Rams beat the Niners 41-39 in a Thursday Night Football game that I did not see because I was out of the country.  However, I have to imagine that it was a fun game to watch – – unless you are an aspiring NFL Defensive Coordinator in which case you probably hid under your couch sometime in the third quarter.  Then, as part of my “catching up” process, I found this statistical tidbit:

  • Since 1940, only 40 teams have scored 39 points or more in an NFL game and lost that game.
  • On average, that only happens about once every other year.

Some of the previous instances where a team offense had a highly proficient day but the team still came away with a loss due to a complete no-show by the defensive unit include:

  • In 1963, the Raiders beat the Oilers 52-49.  The Oilers held the record for the most points scored in a losing effort for 52 years.  Then …
  • In 2015, the Saints beat the Giants by the same 52-49 score.  Now the Oilers – repositioned at the Titans – share the honor with the Giants for most points scored while still managing to lose a game.
  • In 2004, the Bengals beat the Browns 58-48 indicating that both teams probably decided to give up tackling for Lent in 2004.  [Yes, I know.  Lent does not occur during football season.  Work with me here…]
  • In 1966 and in the highest scoring NFL game ever, the Skins beat the Giants 72-41.

In this context, the Niners’ defensive debacle from a few weeks ago appears merely to be awful but not historically awful.

Here is another semi-interesting statistical tidbit related to sports in Cleveland:

  • In 2017, the Cleveland Indians won 22 consecutive MLB games.
  • From 2012 until today, the Cleveland Browns have won a total of 20 NFL games.

As of this morning, there are 5 teams in the NFL that have opened the season with records of 0-3.  I was wondering if any of them had a significant chance of “turning things around” and getting themselves into the “playoff hunt”.  Let’s look at them in alphabetical order:

  1. Cincy:  The Bengals are 31st in the league in yards per game, dead last in the league in points per game (11.0) and 30th in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage.  The Bengals’ defense ranks 7th in the league in yards per game allowed.  So, maybe they can “right the ship” …?
  2. Cleveland:  The Browns are 15th in the league in yards per game on offense and 11th in the league in yards per game allowed on defense.  That does not sound like a team in a “playoff hunt” but it sounds better than an 0-3 record.
  3. LA Chargers:  They only score 16 points per game and rank 28th in the NFL running the ball.  The overall defense looks good statistically – – except that they allow opponents to run for 146.7 yards per game.  No wonder they don’t score a lot; the offense is on the sidelines a lot.
  4. NY Giants:  The team just does not score points; they rank 31st in the league in points per game (12.3).  The defense ranks 16th in the league today but the way the offense is playing the defense is on the field way too much.  The team has some talent on defense, but they cannot run the ball and have difficulty protecting the QB.
  5. San Francisco:  Sorry, I cannot see this team doing much of anything other than losing most of their games for the rest of 2017.

As noted below, the Browns and the Bengals play one another this week so one of them will leave the ranks of the winless by Sunday night – – unless the game is a tie…

For those who are into questions of “Where is he now?”, I read that Trent Richardson just signed on with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.  The Roughriders are 6-6 so far this year and have 6 games left in the regular season.  Given the strength of the Western Division of the CFL as compared to the Eastern Division, they will have to scramble for a playoff slot.

Here are brief comments on a quartet of college football games this weekend:

  1. Clemson at VA Tech:  The line is Clemson -7.  Clemson is a big step up in terms of class of opponent for the Hokies but home field advantage in Blacksburg is a big deal.
  2. Miss St. at Auburn:  The line is Auburn -9.  State is tough in Starkville and not-so-tough on the road; Auburn is anything but a model of consistency.  Venue call…
  3. Miami at Duke:  The line is Miami – 7; Duke is +225 on the money line.  I think Duke has a shot to win this one outright.
  4. USC at Wash St.:  The line is USC – 6.5.  Two very good QBs on display here.  This game should be close all the way.

To maintain the symmetry of the universe, here are brief comments on a quartet of NFL games this weekend:

  1. Raiders at Broncos:  The line is Denver – 2.5.  Two good teams meet in the best game on the dance card for the weekend.  Looks like a venue call to me…
  2. Giants at Bucs:  The line is Tampa – 3.  The Bucs stunk it out last week; the Giants have stunk all season long.  Get out the air freshener.  Bucs send Giants record to 0-4…
  3. Titans at Texans:  The line is Titans – 2.5.  Important game for AFC South race, this should be a low-scoring/defensive game.  The Total Line is 44; I don’t see where a 45th point would come from…
  4. Bengals at Browns:  The line is Bengals -3.  This is the first round of the “Battle for Ohio”.  If you are going to root for a tie so neither team gets a win, you might as well also root for a scoreless tie.  It would be a fitting result…

Finally, earlier this year, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times had this comment about a Seattle Mariners’ game:

“The Mariners committed five errors in one inning?

“Everybody knows there’s no I in team, but who knew there were five E’s in Seattle?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………

 

 

From The Penthouse To The Outhouse

Earlier this week, a former colleague who has been reading these rants from the time before they ever hit the Internet sent me an e-mail “welcoming me home”.  He also included a link to an article from Golf Digest which he pointed out confirms my repeated observations that the golf media’s obsession over the years with Tiger Woods continues.  He said they are “like crack addicts who just cannot quit their habit.”  The theme of this article is that despite Woods’ “year from Hell”, he is still golf’s biggest draw.

As confirmation of that general idea, there was broad coverage and commentary from the golf media when Tiger Woods “announced” that his practice regimen has now been expanded to chipping and putting as opposed to previous times when he could only putt.  Slow down and let me catch my breath there, Hoss…

However, it was this comment in my friend’s e-mail that got me thinking:

“Tiger and OJ are the two biggest ‘riches to rags’ stories ever.”

First of all, while both Tiger and OJ indeed fell from celebrity status to anathema status dramatically, that is where the similarity ends.  Tiger Woods seeks – and may someday attain – the ability to compete in his sport at a high level; OJ never did that once he retired from football.  Secondly, while Tiger Woods’ societal and familial behaviors are not what I tried to point my children toward, his actions are downright angelic as compared to the events related to OJ’s downfall.  Moreover, I think there are some other “riches to rags” stories to add to my friend’s list.  [To be fair, I have expanded beyond merely sports for some of my examples.]:

  1. Lance Armstrong:  He dominated his sport similarly to the way Tiger Woods and OJ dominated theirs.  The major difference here is that cycling is not nearly as popular in the US as is golf or football.
  2. Bill Cosby:  He was once considered a great role model as a father and considered to be an iconic entertainer.  Today, not so much …
  3. John Edwards:  He sought the Democratic nomination for President of the US at least twice and was the Democratic nominee for Vice President once.  I have no idea what he is doing today – but it is a far cry from running for Vice President.
  4. Michael Jackson:  From the stature of “King of Pop”, he managed to descend to the level of “pervy/creepy guy” at best.
  5. Joe Paterno:  To my mind, this is the saddest case on the list.  He never did any of the vile things that brought on his downfall; nonetheless, his reputation was destroyed.
  6. Michael Vick:  His story is interesting because he “rebounded” to some extent from his “fall from grace” to the point where he returned to the NFL and is now a TV analyst for NFL football.

And that list leads me to comment on yesterday’s action by Louisville to put Rick Pitino on “unpaid administrative leave” as the FBI investigation of bribery and fraud related to college basketball continues.  This is not the first encounter that Pitino has had with “scandal” but this is the first one that could put his school on the wrong side of an NCAA sanction that might affect the “bottom line” at Louisville.  Based on my comments yesterday about this investigation and the arrests that have been made and the following comment, I must confess that I do not understand where all of this is coming from or where it is headed:

  • The statement made yesterday by the prosecutor in charge of all this said that some people participated in some illegal/fraudulent activities that delivered highly recruited players to specific schools/teams.  It did not say that the schools/teams did any of those things; it was a cabal of agents and shoe company execs and assistant coaches.  So, if the prosecutor does not think the head coach(es) who received these top-shelf recruits was/were part of the illegal/fraudulent activities, why put the coach on “unpaid administrative leave” which is tantamount to firing him?

Clearly, I am missing something here that is at the core of this matter.  I still do not understand what laws were violated nor do I understand how this whole matter is washing over various folks in the college basketball world.  There is a story this morning speculating as to how this might affect Bruce Pearl at Auburn since one of the Auburn assistant coaches was arrested yesterday.  Suppose for a moment that Josh McDaniels – offensive coordinator for the Patriots – was convicted of a DUI.  Would that endanger Bill Belichick’s driver’s license?

Switching gears, if Highland Park High School (Dallas TX) has a “Hall of Fame”, I think they will soon be inducting two new members.

  1. Clayton Kershaw (Class of 2006) is – at the moment – the highest paid player in MLB.
  2. Matthew Stafford (Class of 2006) is – at the moment – the highest paid player in the NFL.

Finally, since shady dealings in college recruiting are front and center in the news these days, consider this comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News recently:

“An Ohio prep star said on Twitter he’d sign with Ohio State if he got 100,000 retweets.

“Remember football’s simpler days when all it took was a couple of boosters to buy a kid a car?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

The FBI Cracks The Case

From the viewpoint provided from Curmudgeon Central the sports story of the moment must be the arrest of some assistant college basketball coaches and some execs with shoe companies and a few other miscellaneous folks on charges of bribery/fraud/stuff-like-that with regard to high school basketball players and where they might go to college.  Here is a link to one of the online reports about the events involved.

Remember that I have not spent a day of my life in law school and that nothing that follows here ought to be considered as “informed commentary”.  Nonetheless, a couple of things in this story do stand out to me:

  1. This FBI investigation has been ongoing for about 2 years.  I think that is very important because even if everything alleged by the prosecutors in their public announcements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, these charges do not represent a major threat to the establishment of justice or the assurance of domestic tranquility.  [See the Preamble to the US Constitution.]
  2. The NCAA – an organization whose credibility and standing in the eyes of US sports depends on its ability to assure a level playing field for all its member teams – did not know about these alleged frauds and briberies in the past and did not even know about the FBI investigation for the past 2 years.  Question:  Exactly what do those super-sleuths in the NCAA offices do for a living?
  3. Allegedly, “money men” secretly funneled cash to high school players’ families to assure that the kid went to a school that was aligned with a specific shoe company.  Other than possibly being a violation of the laws related to reportable income for Federal Income Tax purposes, I am not sure that whatever statute was violated here is all that important.

Once the NCAA was informed by the FBI as to what had been ongoing for years, the clueless-to-that point NCAA President, Mark Emmert, had this to say:

“The nature of the charges brought by the Federal Government are deeply disturbing.  We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior.  Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breech of that trust.  We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal investigation.”

Let me translate that statement for you:

  • Once again, the NCAA was clueless regarding a major violation of the rules that the NCAA itself created.  It was asleep at the switch – if indeed this is an “extraordinary and despicable breach of trust” between NCAA coaches and student-athletes.

The investigation is not over; the prosecutors have set up a hot-line people can call to add more information and more individual situations to the overall case.  In the end, the prosecutors will send someone or someones up the river for a couple of years; the NCAA will deflect focus on the fact that all this was going on under its collective nose for about a decade or so; college basketball will continue to be the dominant sports story in March of every year; shoe companies will recoil in horror and then find new ways to do essentially the same thing a couple of years from now.  Most importantly, now that these miscreants will have faced justice, the nation’s long national nightmare will come to an end.  Or something like that…

Speaking of recruiting high school athletes to particular colleges, Brad Rock has this comment in the Deseret News recently regarding the decision by ESPN to hold its College Game Day telecast in NYC as opposed to some venue around the country where there might actually be a real NCAA football game:

“Analysts say this could greatly boost recruiting for Julliard’s football team.”

In another story related to college basketball, the reigning champion UNC basketball team will not be visiting the White House for the typical ceremonial time with the President.  At this particular moment when sports news has such an overlap with political news, I am sure that lots of folks will find significance in their absence.  Here in Curmudgeon Central the basis for this inability to pay a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC is pretty simple:

  • The UNC student-athletes cannot possibly afford the time away from their classes and their study time and their term-paper preparations to go somewhere other than to play a basketball game.  There are, after all, only 168 hours in a week…

In another college sports story that resonates well here in Curmudgeon Central, it turns out that Nebraska paid Northern Illinois $820K to come to Lincoln, NE to play the Cornhuskers in an early-season non-conference game.  Nothing to see there; big-time schools do that every year.  The problem in this case is that Northern Illinois did more than show up for the game; Northern Illinois won that game 21-17.  So, it would appear as if the “sacrificial lamb” here was having nothing to do with being slaughtered and chose to ram the “executioner” in the goolies of his nether region prior to exiting the slaughter pen with the $820K in the bank.  Good for the sacrificial lamb…

Finally, I need to change the subject away from the above before I get totally depressed for the day by the disrepute of college sports.  Here is a keen observation by Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot regarding the return of Maria Sharapova to the pro tennis scene:

“Noise pollution: There’s no danger of me watching Sharapova’s scream queen matches, at least not with the sound on. The Shrieking Violet is as loud as ever. It recalls something the late actor Peter Ustinov said about Monica Seles at Wimbledon in the early ’90s: ‘I’d hate to be next door to her on her wedding night.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Catching Up On Football Happenings …

I got to watch my first Monday Night Football for 2017 last night.  I remember reading that ESPN was bringing Hank Williams, Jr. back to do the “opening” of the telecast but I had forgotten that fact until last night.  Frankly, I wish ESPN had forgotten to bring him back.  Or is that just me …?

I enjoyed the close game – it was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter – but the thing that I marveled at was this:

  • Larry Fitzgerald must have found what eluded Ponce de Leon.
  • Fitzgerald recently turned 34 years old.  Most WRs at that age have “lost a step” and if they can continue to play they do so with guile and not pure athletic prowess.
  • Last night, Fitzgerald caught 13 passes for 149 yards and a TD.  He did this – essentially – as the only real threat in the passing game for the Cards.  Two of his catches will be shown on SportsCenter as highlights of the week; you can be sure of that.

In reading a review of last weekend’s NFL activity, I saw mention that the Jags’ performance was sufficiently noteworthy that the Las Vegas oddsmakers had opened the Jags as 4-point favorites on the road against the Jets this week.  Even though the Jets won last week, the Jets are a hot mess and most people recognize that, so why is this noteworthy?

  • Since 2008, the Jags have been road favorites exactly twice – once against the Bengals in 2008 and once against the Colts in 2011.  Recall that 2011 was the year that Peyton Manning sat out the season with a neck injury and the Colts finished with the worst record in the NFL.

As I am trying to catch up on college football happenings, it will surely not surprise anyone to know that I am focused on the “top-tier teams” and I am also focused on the “abyssal plane teams” – the ones that cannot sink much lower.  Consider:

  1. Looking for a bottom feeder or two always requires a glance at the MAC and this year it would seem that Akron, Bowling Green and Kent State could fall to significant levels of disgrace.  Interestingly, this week fans can watch the Akron Zips as they travel to Bowling Green to play the Falcons.  Should be a yawn-fest.
  2. Unless I missed something, I believe UMass is the only team sitting at 0-5 this morning.  That cannot be good.
  3. Oregon St. is 1-3 but when you look at that record you notice that the Beavers have been blown out in all 3 losses and they beat Portland St. – Division 1-AA – by 3 points at home for their only win.  Next, take a look at the upcoming schedule for Oregon St. and see Washington, at USC, Colorado, Stanford as the next four games.  After that, the Beavers get to play two straight road games.  Ouch!
  4. Looking for a bottom feeder always requires a glance at the Kansas football schedule and it does not take long to recognize the potential for abject discredit here.  After an opening win over Southeast Missouri – Division 1-AA – the Jayhawks have lost to 2 MAC teams (both by double digits) and then were blown away by West Virginia.
  5. Looking for a bottom feeder always requires a glance at the Rutgers football schedule and there is also great potential for “stinkitude” here.  The Scarlet Knights are 1-3; the win was a 65-0 blowout over Morgan St. – Division 1-AA.  The three losses were to Washington (at home), E. Michigan (at home) and Nebraska (on the road).  Next up is a home game against Ohio St.; as of this morning, Rutgers is a 29.5-point underdog at home…
  6. Looking for a bottom feeder always requires a glance at the Mountain West Conference and San Jose St. caught my eye there.  The Spartans are 1-3 this year beating Cal Poly SLO – Division 1-AA – in their opener by 3 TDs.  After that, it would seem as if the wheels came off the bus; in the last 3 games – losses to Texas (on the road), Utah (on the road) and Utah St. (at home) – the cumulative score in those 3 games was 171-26.  So far this year, San Jose St. is giving up 46 points per game and one game was against a Division 1-AA opponent.

If you think I am making this next item up, Google is your friend.  There used to be a college football bowl game called the St. Petersburg Bowl.  You should not be surprised to learn that it is contested in St. Petersburg and this year will feature a contest between teams from the American Athletic Conference and Conference USA; those are matchups I never look forward to.  At one point in history, the bowl game sold naming rights and became the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl between 2010 and 2013.  Now the naming rights have been sold again and the St. Petersburg Bowl will be – – sound the trumpets – –

  • The Bad Boys Mowers Gaspirilla Bowl

In case that name is confusing, let me shed a scintilla of light here for you:

  1. Bad Boy Mowers makes zero-turn lawn mowers.
  2. Gaspirilla is not a soft drink; Gaspirilla is a pirate festival celebrated in Tampa each winter and takes its name from a Spanish pirate named José Gaspar who evidently terrorized Florida waters in times past.
  3. What lawn mowers have to do with a pirate festival is not clear to me.
  4. What lawn mowers have to do with Tropicana Field – where the game will be played – is not clear to me either since the stadium has artificial turf.

Now that you know all of that, will you be considering a Bad Boy Mower the next time you need to purchase a lawn mower?  Just asking…

Finally, here is college football related comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“Rutgers installed a jacuzzi in its student section. When you watch Rutgers kids frolicking in a hot tub and Wisconsin students chugging beer from cheese-shaped mugs remember: Nebraska joined the Big Ten for the academics.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………

 

 

I Made It Home …

Sadly, I was “on hiatus” on September 19 which means that I was unable to celebrate “Talk Like A Pirate Day” this year.  Too bad.  Shiver me timbers…

I got back from Portugal realizing that I had missed about a month of football season.  You might think that American football is not widely covered in Portugal and you would be absolutely correct.  Other than scores, I basically knew nothing about what had happened since Labor Day.  I was looking forward to reading some in-depth football stuff and instead I come home to a lot of sturm und drang about National Anthem protests.  I thought that would have been resolved by now – but I was clearly wrong.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sally Jenkins wrote about the comments by President Trump regarding those protests and how the NFL got it right in terms of its response.  Here is a link to that column; I recommend you read it in its entirety.

In today’s Washington Post, Jerry Brewer praised the way that Roger Goodell steered the league and its teams and the players through what could have been a very divisive weekend.  It is not often that Commissioner Goodell earns any praise at all from Jerry Brewer – – let along high praise.  Here is a link to that column; I recommend you read it in its entirety also.

Anyhow, I would much rather write about football than about anthem protests and/or politics so let me point out that before I left, I presented my pre-season NFL predictions.  Two of them have already come to pass; another surely looks as if it is going to happen and one of them looks to be dead wrong.  And we are less than a quarter of the way through the NFL season…

  • Prediction #1:  The Patriots will not go undefeated.  Got that one right…
  • Prediction #2:  The Jets will not go winless.  Got that one right.
  • Prediction #3:  Colts’ fans should hope the Scott Tolzien Era is mercifully brief.  Looks as if it lasted for all of one game.
  • Prediction #4:  Lions will be looking for a new coach in January 2018.  Well, they just gave Jim Caldwell a contract extension so I guess that one is down the tubes.

About 6 weeks ago, I also predicted that the Phillies would not lose 100 games this year.  As of this morning, they have won 62 games so they need only 1 win in their final 6 games to make that come true.  What I did not foresee then was the total implosion of the Giants and the Tigers; I thought the Phillies would be mortal locks to have the #1 pick in the MLB Draft next summer but as of this morning that “honor” would fall to the Giants and the Phils would flip a coin with the Tigers to see who gets the #2 pick.  Oh, and by the way, the White Sox are only 1.5 games ahead of the Tigers and the Phillies in the bottom rungs of the MLB standings.

Here are some short observations about college football:

  1. Last year, I said that Penn State RB, Saquon Barkley was one of the best RBs in the country.  Last week against Iowa, all he did was to rush for 211 yards and add 94 yards receiving to that total.  He is the real deal.
  2. Oklahoma was rolling along and met up with a Baylor team that had looked like road kill in its early games.  Final score was 49-41 favor of Oklahoma.
  3. After Vanderbilt had beaten Kansas St. to run their record to 3-0 and had only allowed 13 points in those 3 games, someone on the Vandy defense basically said that they were doing to show Alabama what it means to come to Nashville and face the Vandy defense.  Not a smart move because the final score was Alabama 59 and Vandy 0.  Ooops…
  4. Ohio State is 4-1 this year with the loss coming at home against Oklahoma.  The Buckeyes have Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska as their next 3 opponents meaning they should be 7-1 when they host Penn State on October 28.
  5. Two weeks ago, Mississippi State disemboweled LSU by 30 points in Starkville.  Last week, the Bulldogs went on the road and lost to Georgia by 28.  Strange doings in the SEC …
  6. USF is ranked in the Top 25 for now and they beat Temple last week by 36 points.  The interesting stat for that game is that Temple’s rushing attack for the day was a total of minus-4 yards.

I see where the NY Knicks finally found a way to unload Carmelo Anthony.  What they got in return from OKC was Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick.  The Knicks got more than a bag of donut holes in this trade but no one ought to consider that this is an “equal trade” from a talent standpoint.

Finally, just before I left for Portugal, Dwight Perry had this quiz in his column in the Seattle Times.  See if you can get it:

“The 29th annual World Hen Racing Championships were won by a chicken named Cooked It.

The 2017 World Snail Racing Championships were won by a mollusk named Larry.

“So, now that we have your attention … Quick! Name the world heavyweight boxing champion!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………